Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preaching: Then and Now

In 2006 I published a book titled The Kind of Preaching Needed Today.  In the opening chapter I emphasized that we need preaching that: 1) Informs, 2) Convicts, 3) Converts, 4) Confirms, 5) Comforts, and 6) is Relevant.  I have not changed my mind about the kind of preaching that is needed today.  I still believe all of the preceding points are essential to the kind of preaching that will result in the salvation of souls (see I Corinthians 1:21).

Pursuant to the above thoughts and as a sequel to last week's "News and Views" titled "Book, Chapter and Verse," I would like to draw a contrast between the kind preaching that was heard in the churches of Christ in an earlier time with the kind of preaching that is frequently heard today.

Things we used to preach:
The authority in religion
Rightly dividing the word of truth
The facts, commands, and promises of the gospel
The identity of the church of the New Testament
The difference between New Testament Christianity and modern-day denominationalism
A way that is right and cannot be wrong
The cases of conversion in the Book of Acts
Acceptable worship
Why we observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday
Why we do not use instrumental music in worship
God's law on marriage, divorce and re-marriage
Be thou faithful unto death
The day of judgment

Things preached today:
How to stay positive in a negative world
How to be a good husband and wife
How to raise good kids
How to be a good neighbor
Random acts of kindness
Principles of business and financial success
I'm okay, you're okay
How to be authentic
Kindness is the word
How to be tolerant and accepting of others
Maintaining good physical and mental health
Let's not be so dogmatic
Judge not
There are many right answers to a question
Doctrine divides, love unites

Some (though certainly not all) of the matters we now hear are good.  I am not suggesting that the Bible does not address any of them, because clearly it does. My concern is that too often today we hear messages that address only our earthly, temporal needs (the popular terminology is our "felt" needs), and fail to address those matters that have to do with the salvation of our souls. There needs to be a sense of Biblical balance in our preaching.  One should not hear only the latter kinds of sermons to the neglect of the former.  We need to be concerned about preaching "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

And in addressing matters relating to the salvation of souls, we need to make sure the message does not come across as: "Unless you believe to some degree, repent to a certain extent, and are baptized by some mode, you may be in danger of being somewhat condemned."  That is a far cry from the clarion call to faith, repentance, and obedience that rang from the lips of Christ and His inspired apostles and prophets, and it stands in stark contrast to the clear and distinct message set forth in the New Testament.    

Speaking Schedule:
September 5: Bethlehem Church of ChristLebanon, TN
September 30: Cottontown Church of Christ,CottontownTN

Hugh Fulford
September 4, 2012

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